Innovative Concrete Solutions

Longer lasting structures that cost less to maintain, lower construction costs for tall buildings, superior finishes for architectural surfaces — all these features and more are the latest innovations in the concrete industry.

Constantly on the lookout for solutions to each customer’s specific needs, manufacturers of concrete have developed technologies that seek to satisfy special construction requirements.

“There are times when builders encounter special cases which require more than regular concrete. For these, the concrete industry has come up with different types of mixes to address particular requirements,” structural engineer and Philippine Institute of Civil Engineers-Makati Secretary Miriam Lusica-Tamayo said.

Among these offerings, Tamayo says, is high-strength concrete (HSC), with ‘strength’ referring to compressive strength. Locally, HSC corresponds to concrete with compressive strength of at least 8,000 pounds per square inch (55 MPa). HSC is highly recommended because of its cost-effectiveness for high-rise buildings or skyscrapers. By using this type of concrete, the sizes of columns can be reduced, and steel tonnage can be decreased because of shorter anchorage and lap lengths. As a result, less overall tonnage will be required for column ties, as well as less formwork expense. Using HSC translates to substantial savings in the total cost of construction.

“Architects and owners will definitely be happier because smaller column sizes result in more available (rentable commercial) space, which equates to an increase in earning potential for building owners,” Tamayo said.

Another specialized type of concrete is high-performance concrete (HPC) which offers enhanced durability and long-term performance. “The structures can perform their functions with minimal maintenance,” Tamayo pointed out.

Pre-stressed concrete is another available innovation. Tamayo explains that concrete is essentially a compression material. The pre-stressing of concrete, which involves the application of a compressive loading prior to applying the anticipated service loads, results in reducing or eliminating the tensile stresses that otherwise would occur due to the applied loads. The use of pre-stressed concrete has enabled construction of long span members with less depth or thickness compared to that required when ordinary concrete is used.

Builders are often faced with congested structural spaces which call for constrained pours. Fortunately, they can always turn to self-consolidating concrete (SCC), which flows easily into tight and constricted spaces without requiring vibration. Also known as self-leveling or self-placing concrete, SCC is showing promise in buildings which utilize concrete for an aesthetic finish. The full consolidation of fresh concrete, as well as thoroughly filled forms, are key to achieving superior finishes of exposed surfaces.

Optimized cement, aggregates and admixtures, including superplasticizer, which keeps the mix highly fluid during the pouring process without compromising the structure’s ultimate strength, are SCC’s ingredients.

“Concrete is still the favorite material among structural engineers because aside from it being the cheapest material, concrete is also known for its durability and fire resistance,” Tamayo said. “Besides these attributes, concrete is very flexible. With proper design and detailing, reinforced concrete can be used to bring to life many shapes and forms, as well as products of the creative minds of architects and builders that lead to the creation of buildings, landmarks, and infrastructure which are both functional and beautiful,” Tamayo said.

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